Brandon Carr, a cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens, is encouraging kids to read through something he started called Lit Buddies, a bimonthly subscription box.
Each box contains two books, notebooks and pencils, as well as other items like water bottles and tote bags.
In an interview with Essence, Carr said that he used to get lost in books as a young person while growing up in Flint, Michigan.
He also explained how the various characters in those fiction books would provide a needed escape for him and spark imagination.
“Early on books were just an outlet for me,” said Carr, who also wants to improve kids’ overall reading skills with Lit Buddies.
“Back in my early days I was a Bernstein Bears guy. I loved me some Clifford,” he added. “I was able to indulge and to kind of dive into the fantasy world with fiction books and just different characters and have an outlet from the daily rigors and stresses. It also inspired me to imagine and dream.”
Carr, who’s mother was a teacher, also visits schools to explain how reading will be a crucial part of students’ future professions.
He said that many of the children want to follow in his footsteps and become a professional athlete, which he uses as way to reach them to be able to discuss the importance of reading.
“Before I go into schools,” he said, “I just step back in time and just try to put myself in that moment and just reflect back to my days as a child. [The goal is to] keep it simple for kids.”
He added, “Everybody wants to be an athlete. I’m like ‘OK. You want to be an athlete? Can you understand the information presented before you when you get this big contract or [if] you’re going for this big endorsement? When you got all these people coming at you for services and money?’ ”
“So I think that makes [reading] important to you,” he continued. “If that’s your big dream, your big goal, then that’s why it’s important. So you won’t get taken advantage of and you can control your own destiny.”
Lit Buddies is distributed to classrooms by the Carr Cares Foundation.